At Ecocleen, we’re strongly committed to providing clean, safe, healthy environments for all children. Jean-Henri Beukes, Ecocleen Managing Director and governor of Great Marlow School, explains in this guest blog post why keeping schools clean is so important to him.
My passion for school cleaning first started when we won our contract with Busy Bees nurseries, our first contract within the education sector. That’s when I realised that it’s about more than just cleaning – it’s about ensuring children’s safety. This means having the right personnel to work in vulnerable situations, who have clear DBS histories.
When I became a governor at Great Marlow School, I was impressed by the school’s safeguarding systems. I wanted to be a governor in order to give back to the community, and having lived on two other continents I also wanted to become more of an expert on the UK education system.
Since becoming a governor, one of the most startling insights I’ve gained is the cost of labour that schools face. On average, 85% of their budgets are invested in staff wages, and the remaining 15% must be spread between other costs such as books, school buses, and activities, leaving a very small budget for cleaning.
The challenges of school cleaning
Cleaning schools is very different from cleaning other work environments. There’s a lot more pressure, since we can only clean outside school hours, and a lot more responsibility. We’re helping to stop infections as children are not always as hygienic as adults, so there are sometimes more germs around. And of course, children are more vulnerable than adults, which adds another level of responsibility.
The main challenge of school cleaning is that they’re under such financial pressure, and we overcome this by realigning schools’ expectations. This means identifying high traffic areas that need to be cleaned on a daily basis, and being more realistic about other more time-consuming areas that might not need such regular attention. We make savings for our clients this way, so Ecocleen gives unbeatable value for the budgetary constraints that schools face.
Keeping children safe
School cleaning is even more important because it comes under safeguarding. Children need to be coming to a clean and hygienic environment, which is the best environment possible for them to learn in.
Safeguarding is just as important as the actual teaching of students. It’s an evolving sector as it’s constantly expanding to include new aspects. For example, we now look at ways to prevent radicalisation and extremism, offering workshops for staff on the characteristics to look out for in children who may be at risk.
Each school has unique safeguarding requirements, but we’ve tried to adopt as many good practices as we can. We vet all our staff, ensuring they have enhanced DBS checks, and after that we put them on the update programme so we get updates on anything that may have been added to their record since their DBS check. We also offer safeguarding training through our e-learning portal. And, the products that we use are all 100% eco-friendly and Eco-Schools endorsed, with absolutely no allergens or harsh chemicals.
How Ecocleen set ourselves apart
One of Ecocleen’s biggest USPs is that when schools work with us they are dealing with business owners, not account managers. Our franchisees have a vested interest, and so they are up front, transparent, and won’t make promises they can’t uphold. This setup makes our business a lot more personal than a corporate structure.
Another thing that sets us apart is the head office support that we provide to our franchisees. We take away the distractions that can otherwise stand in the way of a relationship between a franchisee and a client – we do all the invoicing, collections, marketing and support. And, Ecocleen has many accreditations and is affiliated with several membership bodies.
We think we offer an excellent service, and our clients agree. Ecocleen was thrilled to receive this testimonial from Glynis Smith, Business Manager at Gillotts Academy:
“We have been very pleased with the way Ecocleen has taken on the challenge of cleaning at Gillotts School. We were looking for a company that could provide us with a value for money service and their pricing was realistic. Prior to the contract start, they handled the TUPE process professionally and diligently and started cleaning on site some four years ago. Ecocleen are completely customer focused and have sorted issues very quickly. It cannot be easy cleaning a school that has over 1,000 people on site every day, but our staff regularly comment on how much better the cleaning standards are since Ecocleen started. I would not hesitate to recommend Ecocleen.”